#070: Elvira Ganic on how to succeed in your job hunting

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IMG_0011Elvira Ganic is back for another uplifting episode and this time she shares her best tips and tricks from her job hunt experience when transitioning from academia to industry. Amongst other things, she explains why a growth mindset will help you succeed and also make the journey more enjoyable.

Elvira received her PhD from the Stem Cell Center of the Lund University. After her defense, through the career coaching sessions with Tina Persson and the long job searching process with 27 interviews, she landed on the position of the Regulatory Affairs Specialist at a pharmaceutical and medical device company in Malmö in Sweden.

Want to know more about Elvira? Listen to her inspiring story on how coaching changed the way she sees herself and her skills: #068: Elvira Ganic Story.

The other thing that was also defining for me was getting over this feeling of failure. I remember getting my first rejection. I found it very difficult and of course you feel like you failed and you wonder what you could do better, you take it personally.

– Dr. Elvira Ganic, Regulatory Affairs Specialist


Hi! My name is Tina Persson and I am the founder of this Podcast PhD Career Stories. Today I’m very pleased to have Elvira Ganic back to share her tips and tricks for you from her job hunt process.

Elvira is a PhD from Lund University, Stem Cell Center. She learned very early in her academic career that she wanted a career in industry and I still remember my first meeting with her, a very energetic woman with a very strong willingness to learn. Repeatedly she asked: “Tina what can I do to get a job in industry as fast as possible?” “What do I have to change” and so on.

She kept on asking questions. Elvira was as we coaches say supercoachable – she listened, she learned and she walks the mile meaning she did the job she had to do in order to be successful.

So I was not surprised when she succeeded to convince a recruiter that she would love to take a job as a regulatory affair assistant although they were not looking for a PhD and the salary was pretty low.

But what did Elvira learn during the process? Well, she learned that she had a very academic mindset in attitude – she was actually surprised herself. She learned that industry was not particularly interested in her academic merits, such as publications. She also learned the importance of setting goals and how to survive an interview process in industry.

So welcome to listen to Elvira and all the best and good luck with your career development from Tina on behalf of the team, PhD Career Stories.


My name is Elvira. I work as a regulatory affairs specialist at a pharmaceutical and medical device company in Malmö in Sweden and I have previously talked about the career development process or the transition from my academic PhD to the industry.

I would just like to shortly share some tips and tricks or kind of the more defining moments during my job search and the conclusions that I came to that I felt were important for me.

I think the number one and the most important one had been realizing just how academic I was or I had become and I think this is really important. In academia, you’re evaluated on a totally different set of skills than you’re when applying for jobs in industry. In academia it’s all about how many publications you have, what impact factor they are, what are the hard skills that you have learnt, techniques, methods and all these more concrete things.

In industry, there are different rules that you go by and I felt it was really difficult. First realizing it, but also difficult of shedding that, letting that go, what you were always used to evaluate yourself with. I have these publications, let me list them for you and I have these set of skills that I feel are important and then coming to a point where you realize that just because I think this is important doesn’t mean it generally is.

So it really is about finding out what it is that you are looking for. What you want and how relevant what you have done is to that position you’re looking for.

If it is really relevant that you have five publications with an impact factor X for a specific job in regulatory or in marketing, or something else that you are perhaps pursuing within the industry, so really try to find suitable places in your CV, in your cover letter, in your approach, when you talk to headhunters or your potential employers where you are academic.

This is a little difficult because this is something that becomes part of you. So it really takes a lot of work to realize what it is and what you need to get rid of.

Of course still being yourself but knowing for example what is important and what is not.

An interviewer might ask you to describe your PhD project for him. I have gotten this question several times and I have realized that it is actually a hidden question. I can’t speak for everyone but the experience that I have is that they are not interested in the actual topic, they are not interested in knowing what your dissertation was on, what they want to know is how you answer the question. Are you going into detail maybe they will think that you lack this anchor to reality that this particular job might need. They want to know whether you can explain it simply, answer it shortly and how anchored to reality into that specific position you are.

So never forget what the goal over the conversation is, what you’re looking for and always aim for that.

When I was asked that question; what my dissertation was on, I think I just mentioned the topic and went on to describe why I was ready to move on to industry so I actually never answer that question. You can choose your own approach.

But I think it is important to be aware of why certain questions are asked and it is not always with the goal of answering specific facts but more of seeing how you will answer the question and I think once you know what your goal is then it will be easier to answer.

The other thing that was also defining for me was getting over this feeling of failure. I remember getting my first rejection. I found it very difficult and of course you feel like you failed and you wonder what you could do better, you take it personally.

I know this might sound like a cliche but really really really, it is not personal and the sooner you can get over that the more successful you will be.

Try and look at this as a learning experience every time you get a no, make sure you know why so you can do better. When you do like this, when you are more focused on learning and being curious about it than just perhaps feeling sorry for yourself or whatever other emotions might arise, then you will grow from it. You will do better next time and also realize that most of the time it is not even about you, it is not something you did, it was just that somebody else was more suitable.

It really helps if you have a strategic job search which I tried to have at that time when I was looking for a job. I had several interviews lined up already so once you go to the interview, you feel like it went well, and then maybe you are called for the next one. But make sure you evaluate each experience separately. Know what you did know what you could have done better and really focus on the improvement and on the growth that you can do. When you get that rejection which you will a few times naturally, ask, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback but also know that it is not always about you.

But then again be prepared to, if you do get some constructive feedback, to work on that. Be ready to hear it and then ask yourself: is it true, is it relevant, how can I change it, how can I grow from it.

The third thing that I thought helped me was that I tried to have, and I think this cannot be stressed enough, to really have a targeted approach in my job search.

If you are looking for a specific position, know why do I want to work with this, why do I want to work for that company, what do I bring to the table, what can I do and really try to get that across in your CV or your cover letter so that it really is targeted for that position.

Don’t just send out the same thing with a little bit of variation. I know it sounds like a cliche but I think this is one of the things that did help me to get to as many interviews as I did. I really did have a personalized cover letter for each position that I search for and I really meant what I said. I found out, is this what I want to do and why do I want to do it and why do I think I will be good at it, why should they choose me. Because if you don’t know that before, there is no way this will come across in your letter in your interviews so that is the real important to just be aware of.

So this is some of my personal experiences. Of course there are many more stories that I’m happy to share. You are always more than welcome to contact me, approach me on LinkedIn or via social media. I’m more than happy to share my experiences, I know how it is.

I remember when getting coached by Tina, she would say “Don’t worry. Everyone I have coached found a job” and it really was at that point where I thought that yeah I’m going to be the first one that didn’t!

But I did and I did in a very short time. I’m not saying that it is going to take a short time, but you will get there when you are prepared to do the work it takes and when you are prepared to have that growth attitude and approach to not to take it personally and trying to have fun with it, trying to learn. These are my own personal advice. These are the things that helped me and I really hope they can help you too. I wish all the best of luck!

And again feel free to contact me whenever you want, thank you for listening.

I hope you enjoyed to listen to Elvira and that you got inspired by her story describing her transitioning from academia to her regulatory affair profession.

PhD Career stories is happy to have you as a listener and hopefully a follower and if you have any feedback or if you want to contact us please don’t hesitate to do so.

You can find us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram and contact details you find on a web page phdcareerstories.com.

This is Tina Persson founder of the podcast from a rainy Malmö, in south part of Sweden and on behalf of the PhD Career Stories team I say thanks and see you in two weeks.

See you soon and thanks for following us!


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